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This week we saw a proposal from the Labor Party to reshape the governance of the tax system with a Tax System Advisory Board as recommended by the Henry Tax Review. Whilst this is a good addition to business and taxpayer input into Tax Office decision making and culture, it is peripheral to the real business of tax reform.

On Thursday, 5 August 2010 the Taxation Institute issued a media release "Labor Promise is Positive but it's Time to Get Serious". The fact that an administrative reform is taking centre place in tax in this election campaign highlights that both major parties need to get serious about proper tax reform. We call on the incoming Government to look at the fundamentals of tax reform, not just the way the system is administered. The Henry Tax Review provided a good starting point for tax reform but it's time for the major parties to treat tax reform seriously and make a commitment to a meaningful plan; this means committing to changes that make the system fairer, more equitable and simpler. We also commented on proposals relating to the principles-based approach to tax design and reshaping the Board of Taxation to allow it to initiate its own reviews (please refer to the media release for further detail).

The Institute's pre-election offer to host a tax debate between the major political parties still stands, even with Treasurer Wayne Swan and Shadow Treasurer Joe Hockey facing off at the National Press Club in Canberra on Monday. We will be looking for both of them to lay out some broad principles at the Press Club and then be scrutinised on more tax detail at a second debate.

Also this week, the Tax Policy and Research team welcomed another new member, Deepti Paton ATIA, in the additional role of Tax Counsel.

Please see below for details of other activities this week.

Kind regards
Robert Jeremenko FTIA

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